UPDATED to include statement from recipients: CBS has picked 18 recipients of a previously announced $20 million donation to support the fight against sexual harassment in the workplace.
The $20 million was deducted from the exit package of former CEO Les Moonves in September under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations.
The company said the organizations “represent different critical approaches to combating sexual harassment, including efforts to change culture and improve gender equity in the workplace, train and educate employees, and provide victims with services and support.”
The donation reflects the company’s “ongoing commitment to strengthening its own workplace culture,” CBS said.
Recipients include: Catalyst; Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors), re-granting; Free the Bid; Freedom Forum Institute (Power Shift Project); Futures Without Violence; Girls for Gender Equity / ‘me too.’ Movement; International Women’s Media Foundation; National Women’s Law Center; New York Women’s Foundation (re-granting); Press Forward; Producers Guild of America Foundation; RAINN; STRIVE International; Sundance Institute’s Momentum program; TIME’S UP Entertainment; TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund; Women in Film Los Angeles; and Women’s Media Center.
In a joint statement, the groups said the funds “will make a significant impact on organizations that do critical work on behalf of survivors of sexual violence, and for women’s safety and equity at work.” While the statement thanked CBS for the donation, it added, “We also recognize these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behavior. The road ahead remains long. Progress will only be possible through a sustained commitment to improve internal culture and policies.”
Two of the recipients of funding are well-established names in Hollywood, the Producers Guild of America Foundation and TimesUp.
The PGA Foundation received $2 million, the largest individual award, in support of its new program, the Independent Production Safety Initiative. The program will provide free anti-sexual harassment training and legal consultation for independent film, television, and digital productions.
PGA Presidents Gail Berman and Lucy Fisher said the initiative was intended for productions lacking the financial and institutional resources to effectively deal with harassment issues that arise. “We believe it will make an immediate impact toward improving the professional lives of thousands of workers in our industry,” the guild presidents said in a statement.
Under the PGA’s plan, any qualifying independent production can be eligible for up to two hours of legal consultation services from experts in sexual harassment law. Lori McCreary, PGA President Emeritus and Chair of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force, called the legal piece a “crucial element” of the new initiative.
TimesUp Entertainment, a unit within the broader coalition, said it would use the $500,000 it got from CBS to start a new initiative called Who’s In the Room, which aims to transform the executive and producer pipeline.
In addition to the main 18, CBS said it would give a portion of the grant to two groups in order to disburse smaller grants to additional organizations: the Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity (through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) and the New York Women’s Foundation.
Grant funds will go toward assisting these organizations in expanding their existing work and developing new programs that will “reach new and diverse communities,” CBS said.
In October, CBS hired Rally, an issues advocacy and strategy firm that has worked with such advocacy groups as Time’s Up, the ACLU and the American Foundation for Equal Rights. The group helped CBS and Moonves select organizations that would receive grants.
The donation was announced in September during the period when longtime CEO Moonves stepped down from the company amid sexual misconduct allegations from multiple women. The former boss is still technically eligible for a $120 million exit package, pending the results of two outside law firms’ investigation into his behavior and the workplace culture at CBS.
The likelihood of Moonves collecting severance has lessened after the New York Times published several damning accounts based on a draft version of investigators’ report. And the Moonves Era continues to create problems for the current CBS management team. Just 24 hours ago, the company said it paid actress Eliza Dushku a $9.5 million settlement after she was retaliated against for complaining about sexually harassment on the set of Bull. In confirming the settlement, CBS issued a strikingly unvarnished statement. “The allegations in Ms. Dushku’s claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done,” it read in part.